The murine tub (rd5) mutation is not associated with a primary axonemal defect

Kevin K. Ohlemiller, Judith Mosinger Ogilvie, Jaclynn M. Lett, Ruth M. Hughes, Marie C. LaRegina, Lisa M. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Some genetic syndromes causing loss of hearing and vision, such as some forms of Usher's syndrome, also cause reduced sperm cell motility, bionchiectasis, and other pathologies involving cilia- and flagella-bearing cells. In some Usher's patients, ultrastructural defects of axonemes within photoreceptor ciliary bridges, nasal cilia, and sperm cell flagella have been found, indicating a primary defect of axonemal conformation. Mice homozygous for the tub (rd5) mutation exhibit progressive retinal degeneration, sensorineural hearing loss, reduced fertility, and obesity, and presently represent the only animal model with neuroepithelial degeneration of both cochlea and retina without other neurological abnormalities. They provide a good phenotypic match to human genetic sensory syndromes, particularly human sensory/obesity syndromes, such as Alstrom's and Bardet/Biedl, although no human candidate genes have been identified. Because of their unique phenotype, tubby mice are an appropriate model in which to look for a primary axonemal defect. We studied the axonemal ultrastructure of photoreceptors and sperm cells and performed functional testing of sperm in tub/tub mice before and after the onset of obesity. Approximately 15% of photoreceptor axonemes appeared abnormal in tub/tub animals, compared to 0% in controls. Both tub homozygotes and controls exhibited approximately 10% abnormal sperm cell axonemes, and no differences in sperm cell motile function were found at any age. The modest occurrence of axonemal defects in photoreceptors of tub/tub animals is likely to be a secondary effect of retinal degeneration. We conclude that the tubby phenotype is not associated with a generalized defect of cilia- and flagella-bearing cells and that the rub mutation does not primarily affect axonemal structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-495
Number of pages7
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Alstrom's syndrome
  • Barder/Biedl syndrome
  • Cilia
  • Cochlea
  • Mouse C57BL/6J
  • Photoreceptors
  • Retina
  • Sperm
  • Usher's syndrome


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